This week's specials are kitchen fires, botanas, and biscuits

Hoover Alexander
Hoover Alexander (Photo by John Anderson)

While the South by Southwest maelstrom continues to churn in the central city, life goes on around Austin. Two popular suburban restaurants experienced fires over the weekend, and while both appear to be kitchen-related, there's been no official word about their origins. Widely beloved for their delicious spiral-cut hams, hearty breakfasts, and overstuffed sandwiches, the Texas Honey Ham Co. (3736 Bee Caves Rd. Ste. 6-A) in Westlake had a fire overnight Friday. The owners promise to keep their loyal fan base posted about the progress of repairs via social media. Kim Phung (7601 N. Lamar) was one of Austin's first pho shops and an annual winner in our now-retired Austin Chronicle Readers' Restaurant Poll for many years. A fire in the early morning last Friday has the restaurant closed indefinitely with no word yet on reopening plans. We'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, changes are afoot along Manor Road's busy restaurant row. Vivo (2015 Manor Rd.) has closed in anticipation of opening in another location, which makes us very curious about what's going to happen to that prime piece of restaurant real estate. Also, Carlos Rivero's El Chile Restaurant Group presents a new concept in the former Flat Top burger location. El Sapo Botanas y Burgers (1900 Manor Rd.) opens this week with a series of free music day parties, March 12-15, hosted in conjunction with KTRU in San Antonio. Look for El Sapo to offer burgers, appetizers, craft beer, and cocktails. And, by the way, we grabbed an order of chicken and sides from Hoover's new Chicken & Biscuits trailer (2017 Manor Rd.) over the weekend and were very favorably impressed. The trailer serves chicken, biscuits, and sides Monday-Saturday, 11am-8pm, and Sundays, 11am-4pm.

Along with the opening of Wonderland (1104 E. Sixth) just in time for SXSW, another new Eastside venue has made its debut: Fair Market (1105 E. Fifth) is a new event facility brought to us by a joint partnership of longtime neighborhood businessman Richard Kooris of Pegalo Properties, Dennis McDaniel of Austin Fairchild Management, Jesse Herman and Delfo Trombetta of La Condesa and Sway, as well as James Moody and Graham Williams of Transmission Events. The Quonset hut-style building offers over 16,000 square feet of interior event space as well as landscaped outdoor areas, concert production equipment, security, valet parking, a full bar, and catering kitchen. Jesse Herman reports that while La Condesa and Sway will be available to cater events in Fair Market, they will not have exclusive control of the venue, and he expects the management to develop a list of preferred caterers with whom they are comfortable working on corporate events, weddings, and parties. Herman and I also discussed their plans to offer a weekly artisanal market. Look for more about that at

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